40: A Time of Testing and Trials

So many people ask why it took forty years for the Israelites to get from Egypt to the Promised Land. Some do it to try and trip up believers.  The first thing is to understand that many things occurred that extended the travel time which are seen in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. During this time lessons were learned, laws and precepts were given, feast days were established, and the tent of meeting and the Tabernacle were built. There were also battles which meant preparation and recovery times as well as the length of the battles or skirmishes. This leads one to understand that 1 to 3 years of travel time is hardly enough. Also consider they used the lunar calendar which shortens the year.

The Book of Numbers gives a clue on the movement of the Hebrews as they travel:

On the day that the tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony. And at evening it was over the tabernacle like the appearance of fire until morning. So it was always: the cloud covered it by day and the appearance of fire by night. And whenever the cloud lifted from over the tent, after that the people of Israel set out, and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the people of Israel camped. At the command of the Lord the people of Israel set out, and at the command of the Lord they camped. As long as the cloud rested over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. Even when the cloud continued over the tabernacle many days, the people of Israel kept the charge of the Lord and did not set out. Sometimes the cloud was a few days over the tabernacle, and according to the command of the Lord they remained in camp; then according to the command of the Lord they set out. And sometimes the cloud remained from evening until morning. And when the cloud lifted in the morning, they set out, or if it continued for a day and a night, when the cloud lifted they set out. Whether it was two days, or a month, or a longer time that the cloud continued over the tabernacle abiding there, the people of Israel remained in camp and did not set out, but when it lifted they set out. At the command of the Lord they camped, and at the command of the Lord they set out. They kept the charge of the Lord, at the command of the Lord by Moses.  Numbers 9:15-23

It wasn’t till later that God actually put them on their forty year desert travel in circles, so close to the land yet so far. But God had to make sure the people were right and ready to be His Chosen and accomplish their part in His plan.

There is Something about 40

The number forty is very significant. Many testing, trials or probation periods, and changes, happened in each mention of forty be it days, nights, months, or years. The number forty is in the Bible well over 140 times and each time there is significant spiritual growth. The rains fell for forty days and forty nights, Moses was on the mountain with God for forty days, Jonah spent forty days ministering to Nineveh, Elijah fasted for forty days, Jesus was tempted for forty and also stayed teaching after the resurrection for forty days. David ruled for forty years. The number forty has much to do with learning.

When the Hebrews began their forty in the desert, God kept only Joshua, Caleb, and Aaron’s son Eleazar alive to enter the Promised Land from the time before the wandering. God had sentenced all men who were twenty years of older before the wandering to death so that a new generation would learn to trust in God for all their needs. Yes they grumbled and complained but in the end they knew God and trusted His care. It took this period of time to establish the moral and ethical codes that went right along with the Commandments and to get them to understand God’s Love.

We know from reading that humans do not always adhere to rules, regulations, covenants and promises because the Israelites really messed things up for themselves and blended with other cultures which corrupted our part of the covenant. But God’s Love and Compassion for His People is stronger than any human emotion or action.

40 Days of Lent

The Lenten season itself is not found in Scripture but the idea of forty days of testing and trials is. This is the season for us to repent, refresh, and renew while we give up things of this world to attain a better, Spiritual understanding and relationship with God. We should not return to that which we gave up or the Adversary has won.

Brothers and Sisters, keep watch and be vigilant. Share the Gospel as often as possible and be that light as we are commissioned to be. Are we in our forty years of testing? Maybe we are at an end and we lost or maybe this is just the beginning. Either way, the Adversary is coming soon to take control. Keep His Word on your heart and do not be influenced by the New Church as so many unfortunately are. God’s Word does not change, Jesus teachings have not changed. So why are we changing them to gain the world? Pay attention to your heart and God’s Love will carry you through.

Blessings, Rob Servant of God

Advertisements

Advent Week 3 Rejoice For the Lord is Near

When the Lord  restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them. “The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad. Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev! Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. Psalm 126:1-6 ESV

This week we experience the joy of knowing the Messiah will be here soon. We rejoice in the fact that we will be restored to the Kingdom of the Father and truly have that personal relationship that He desires to have with us. We celebrate the coming communion with the Father focusing of the joy His mere presence brings. When Paul speaks of the fruit of the Spirit, he shares the qualities that God desires in each of us to share with the world. 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, self control. Nothing in the Torah stands against such things. Galatians 5:22-23 CJB

The Pentateuch teaches us about God’s joy and how we are to emulate it here on earth.

Isaiah spoke of the hope and desire for all mankind that God would be present in our lives again so we may feel the joy that comes with Him. He also pleads for restoration of the Spirit and the land which God calls holy but we have destroyed with our sins.  

Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence—as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil— to make your name known to your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at your presence! When you did awesome things that we did not look for, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him. You meet him who joyfully works righteousness, those who remember you in your ways. Behold, you were angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved? But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Be not so terribly angry, O Lord, and remember not iniquity forever. Behold, please look, we are all your people. Your holy cities have become a wilderness; Zion has become a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and beautiful house, where our fathers praised you, has been burned by fire, and all our pleasant places have become ruins.  Isaiah 64:1-5,8-11 ESV

So God sends John the Baptist to fulfill the prophesy of preparation and sets the stage for us to rejoice in His arrival. He is Jesus, Word made flesh, Messiah, Savior, our Salvation from sin.

 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said. “They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet? “John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie. “These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.         John 1:23,25-28 ESV

We are not worthy of saving but God loves us so much and desires the relationship He once had with Adam and Eve. Rejoice that God cares for us so much that He sent His Son to pay the ultimate price and opened the veil so we can connect with God. 

He will come again and will bring the Kingdom with Him. Let us rejoice that God’s Word is the Truth and the Light.

God Is Everywhere

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.         Psalm 139:7-10

 

No matter where we are, God is there directing and guiding us in all places throughout our lives. There is a confidence in knowing that God is ever present in our lives. He will pick us up when we fall, He will guide us in our living and direct us to the places He needs us to go. That is what Psalm 139: 7-10 is all about.

The writer exclaims that finding a hiding place from God is not possible. We cannot hide from what we cannot see. Since God is a part of everything, even the stuff that man makes cannot hide us from Him. Our sinful nature tells us that behind closed doors, God cannot see so we are tempted to do things in secret places, hiding from the world.

In Heaven or Sheol, God is there. Now some translations say hell instead of sheol. This was before Jesus defeated the Adversary so Sheol, the place of the dead before judgement for the Hebrews, would be a better stated because God is absent from hell. According to many Jewish scholars, God has ruler ship over Sheol even though individuals there are bound and locked in. Ascending into Heaven, according to the people of this time, was reserved for the truly righteous who never sinned or were chosen by God as prophets and priests (though just being a Levite priest did not guarantee heaven). It is also descriptive of what is beyond the sky.

We can be high up in the air or dwell in the deepest depths of the sea and God is there. These areas are all part of God’s creation. We cannot escape it, we cannot hide. God’s hands reach as far as the earth is round. The hand of God is in everything. We see the beauty of His creation in every thing, every day. Mankind has tried to dismiss this but we cannot play God. Even with the internet and having the world at our fingertips, we will never be as omnipotent, omniscient, nor omnipresent as God is.